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DOT Regs

Not all states require the same equipment, most require at least these, some less. Check your state on the next page.

* Headlight with a high and low beam

* Headlight indicator light visible to the operator to show when the high beam is operating.

* Horn - Some states mandate an electric horn.

* Battery powered taillight and brake light which must operate for 20 minutes on battery power alone.

* Rear view mirror.

* Turn signals for motorcycles manufactured after 1/1/73.

* Some states require speedometers and odometers.

* Tires should be DOT approved.

* Lights should be DOT approved.

* Fuel tank should be DOT approved.

Actual DOT Regs

Federal law (49 U.S.C. Chapter 301, Motor Vehicle Safety) authorizes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to issue Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS) for new motor vehicles >and new items of motor vehicle equipment. NHTSA also investigates safety-related defects.

Neither NHTSA nor the Department of Transportation approves motor vehicles or motor vehicle equipment. Instead, the law establishes a "self-certification" process under which each manufacturer is
The DOT symbol is a certification by the manufacturer, not NHTSA, that the product meets the minimum standards that have been set forth.

Under 49 U.S.C. 30112, "a person may not manufacture for sale, sell, offer for sale, introduce or deliver for introduction in interstate commerce, or import into the United States," any motor vehicle unless it complies with, and is certified as complying with, all applicable Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS). Federal law does not address the licensing or operation of motor vehicles, which is left to the States.

Under Section 30103(b), however, a State is expressly preempted from having a standard applicable to the same aspect of performance as a FMVSS unless the State standard is identical to the Federal requirement. This is interpreted as preventing States from adopting or enforcing operational or licensing requirements that would preclude the operation of vehicles that comply with the FMVSS. Thus, for example, a State could not prohibit a motorcycle from being equipped with a modulating headlamp system in order to be licensed or operated because there is a FMVSS "Standard No. 108" that expressly allows such a system.

What all this means is that your local (State) laws are going to require DOT approved equipment. That makes the DOT (Federal) standard the basis that all states make laws from.

As a last resort, if you believe a law enforcement officer is being unreasonable, you can politely ask them to educate you on an infraction and show you, in the code book, the motor vehicle code that they are charging you with and ask them to document that on the back of your ticket. Camera phones are very useful here to document the officer and the equipment in supposed violation.